7 takeaways from the ‘BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky’ Documentary
BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky came out on Netflix yesterday, so of course, we sat down and made a note of every little thing.
Let us just start by saying that this year is keeping BLINKs so well fed. BLACKPINK kicked off 2020 with a major collaboration with Lady Gaga on ‘Sour Candy’, followed by the summery ‘Ice Cream’, featuring Selena Gomez. Then came their first full-length album, The Album, four years after their debut.
The latest in this line of offerings is the group’s Netflix documentary, BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky. Using personal interviews with the members and their production teams, and footage from their performances, the documentary offers an intimate look into how the four members Lisa, Jennie, Rosé, and Jisoo became BLACKPINK.
So, here are 7 major takeaways from ‘BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky’.
Right at the start of the documentary, producer Teddy Park gave insight into how the vision for the group changed with their fame. Park has produced all the music for the group since their debut in 2016.
“Our initial approach was more like: single, smash, single, hit,” he said. “Now, we feel like we need to tell more of our personal story.”
Of course, with how long the group’s first album took, the team was well aware of fans’ relentless requests. Perfection, however, is the topmost priority for the group.
“I know the fans are mad. They’re like: ‘We want more and more and more.'” said Park. “We do have a lot in here, but we’re very particular with what we put out.”‘Whistle’ almost didn’t make the cut for one of the title tracks on Square One.
Every BLINK remembers ‘Whistle‘, from BLACKPINK’s debut single album Square One. Within a week of its release, ‘Whistle’ won BLACKPINK their first trophy on the music program Inkigayo, making them the fastest girl-group to achieve such a feat. It also reached No. 1 on all South Korean music charts, achieving a “perfect all-kill.” To date, BLACKPINK remains the only group to have done that with a debut song.
The group revealed, however, that ‘Whistle’ was almost shelved by the production team.
“Too many people thought it was risky.” recalled Teddy Park while talking to the members in the studio. “It has this weird country vibe to it, and it’s super minimal. It just sounded too empty to a lot of people.”
Both the group and Park, however, pushed for the song to be included as one of the debut songs.
“Last minute, we were like: ‘It has to be that one.'” said Rosé.
Traineeship is a major part of every K-pop idol’s journey. To make the cut for debut, K-pop idols train for years to perfect their craft. As BLACKPINK revealed, days were long and repetitive, often packed with 14-hours of practice everyday and minimal breaks. Trainees also faced a monthly review, which decided whether they would stay on or go home.
“I remember having to send a good friend of mine home every month because they got eliminated from the test.” said Jennie.
“There were so many rules.” added Rosé. “So many things to just be like… ‘They don’t like this. They don’t like that.’ Everything I did was wrong.”
Trainees also had strict rules in place: smoking, drinking and getting tattoos were off-limits. “Being told that I’m not good at stuff face-to-face and trying to keep everything together, when I hear those things, it was very harsh.” Jennie recalled.
Rosé added: “It was just days on end with a bunch of girls just not knowing where this was going.”… But the group wouldn’t change it for the world.
Despite the struggles of their trainee life, the members were determined to make it to end.
“My dad sent me [to Korea], and he was like: ‘Rosé, come home. We want you back home.’ And I hated that. I hated it whenever they would say ‘come home’. That was the last thing I wanted to hear.” Rosé laughed. “I’m not going to go back without doing anything. That would be embarrassing for me. That’s what I thought.”
Jisoo, the group’s eldest, admitted to asking herself whether she wanted to give up because it wasn’t easy, but then decided that she wanted to stay after all.
“I knew I could do it.” Jennie said. “The tougher they treated me, I’m like: ‘I’m gonna get through it, and I’m going to show them that I’m worth it.'”
In their own words, the group hadn’t expected to become this famous. As BLACKPINK soared higher and higher, the girls grappled with the reality and complications of their position. That, of course, often took a toll, and was riddled with moments of doubt and fear.
“During trainee days, I was desperate. I really wanted it. But after debut, that’s when you start getting a lot of responsibilities,” explained Rosé. “I think when things get faster, it also becomes very overwhelming at some points.”
“Then came the pressure for our next thing,” said Jisoo. “‘What now? What do we do? Let’s come up with something fresh.’ I felt like we were being chased.”
Lisa, in particular, recalled feeling uncertain when she visited her homeland, Thailand, for the first time after her debut. As she faced throngs of people chanting her name, she didn’t feel ‘good enough’.
“Thai teens see me as a Thai who has made it this far. They say: ‘I want to be like Lisa.'” she said. “But at that moment, I wasn’t sure whether I was really good enough to be their role model… I kind of lost the goal. I was trying to find myself.”Touring extracts a heavy toll…
In what is perhaps the most realistic and poignant montage of the documentary, the members are shown performing in one city before shuttling off to the next. As the flights and venues and cities merge, the members admit how tiring touring becomes.
Jennie puts it into perspective: “Once it gets going, for like, the next 30 days, to try to give them [the fans] the best stage everyday is a lot of pressure. After so many plane rides and so many environment changes, our body just gives up on us.”
For Rosé, the stark difference between the crowded arena and the empty hotel room afterwards was sometimes too much to bear: “In the middle of it, I didn’t feel like I had a personal life. It felt like there was this big hole in my life. What I’m basically living for is tomorrow’s show. I love being on stage, because that’s when I feel the most alive. Yet, when we come back to the hotel, I felt so empty.”… But BLACKPINK are alright as long as they are together.
As the documentary enters the climax with BLACKPINK’s historic Coachella performance — when they became the first K-pop girl group to perform at the festival — the group reflected on what it all meant, and who they were doing this for.
For them, it’s about remembering why they started doing this in the first place and being sure of the fact that they still want to do this 2o years from now, when they might injure their backs during comebacks, as they joke.
Lisa sums this ethos up: “It doesn’t matter if we grow old and get replaced by a new, younger generation. As long as there is still someone talking about us… because they will still remember how we shone so bright.”